Alex de Angelis
While the Aspar team was making its presentation in Valencia, the Forward Racing Team took advantage of the heavy press presence at Jerez for the Moto2 IRTA test to launch its 2012 challenge in Moto2 and Moto3, in the spectacular setting of the VIP "saucer" which hangs above the circuit. The presentation got underway very late, as bad weather delayed Edwards' departure from the US, the Texan rushing straight from the airport to the track for the launch.
At the presentation, Edwards talked to the press about the state of development of the BMW Suter CRT project. The bike had made a lot of progress, though they were still a way from being 100% competitive. The electronics had improved a lot, he said, though the improved electronics had caused a recurrence of the chatter problem. The CRT machines were still outgunned, though, Edwards said. "The MotoGP bikes are a 50 caliber, and we're a 308," the Texan quipped.
Just how much different a less power-hungry circuit makes will be apparent from Friday, when all of the CRT bikes face the MotoGP factory prototypes at Jerez for the final test of the season.
Below is the NGM Mobile Forward Racing press release from the launch:
The FIM today released the provisional entry lists for all three Grand Prix classes, and the grids are looking remarkably healthy. Some 21 riders will line up in the MotoGP class, the Moto2 grid has been shrunk to a more manageable 33 entries, and 32 riders will be at the start for the inaugural season of racing in the Moto3 class, the grid the same size as it was for last year's 125cc class, which Moto3 replaces.
There are no surprises in the MotoGP class. As expected, there are 21 entries: 12 factory prototype entries and 9 CRT entries. Of the factory prototypes (which includes satellite machines), the three factory teams remain unchanged with the exception of the reduction of the Repsol Honda squad from three riders to two, Andrea Dovizioso having been dropped, despite finishing 3rd in the championship in 2011 ahead of Dani Pedrosa, who retains his seat. Dovizioso joins Cal Crutchlow at Monster Tech 3, Yamaha maintaining its commitment at 4 YZR-M1 machines. Both Honda and Ducati have cut back to just two satellite bikes apiece, with the bikes spread over four different teams. Stefan Bradl, whose usual number, 65, was retired in honor of Loris Capirossi, has elected to use the number 6.
After the dramatic events of Misano, which saw Shoya Tomizawa lose his life after crashing during the Moto2 race, attendance at the Safety Commission meeting at Aragon - the first convened after Misano - was very strong. Everyone had come to hear Race Direction explain their actions, and give their reasons for not red-flagging the Moto2 race, and a long discussion ensued over the pros and cons of having astroturf on the outside of corners.
All of the riders who attended described the meeting as very positive, and the atmosphere as very open. The riders said that Race Direction was very open to the ideas of the riders, and everyone in the room was looking for lessons that could be learned from the incident involving Tomizawa, Scott Redding and Alex de Angelis.
Nicky Hayden, Valentino Rossi and Andrea Dovizioso were three of the riders present at the meeting. Here's what they had to say about the meeting afterwards.
On the opinion of the riders on astroturf:
It's mixed. I think that astroturf's good but it's too grippy, you know, it don't scare anybody. Especially 125 and Moto2 riders, people don't even slow down for it. They get their tires onto it. I think they need astroturf but more slippery. So when you get onto it, you have to slow down.
As if the Moto2 grid wasn't confusing enough already, the Misano round for the 40-strong Moto2 class features a host of replacement riders and wildcards. Making things even worse, some of the replacements and wildcards are riders who have left one team and gone on to ride for another. Here's a rundown of the Misano Moto2 Musical Chairs:
First of all, the absentees: Aeroport de Castello's Alex Debon is out after fracturing his collarbone yet again, the 4th time in 10 months, after falling at Indianapolis. HolidayGym's Fonsi Nieto is also missing, having cracked his heelbone in the Indy Moto2 mayhem. Nieto has been extraordinarily unlucky: not only did he fracture bones in his foot, but the Spaniard had problems during surgery on his foot which saw him suffer a respiratory arrest as a result of the anesthetics being used. So serious was the situation that Nieto was even in danger of having his foot amputated because of the complications.
Toni Elias' Gresini teammate Vladimir Ivanov is also absent due to injury, as is JIR Moto2's Yusuke Teshima - himself a replacement for Mattia Pasini, who left after a dispute over finances - and Arne Tode of Team Germany, both of whom picked up (further) injuries at Indy.
While Scott Jones, MotoMatters.com's own photographer is back home in California, our friend Jules Cisek is here at Brno instead. And fortunately for us, Jules is a dab hand with the camera as well. Here's his photos from Saturday.
After reporting yesterday that a deal between Alex de Angelis and Interwetten Honda to replace Hiroshi Aoyama was near, events are moving quickly. Today, the Interwetten team announced the deal was done, and the Team Scot Moto2 rider will be filling in for Aoyama until the Japanese rider's return in September. De Angelis' experience in MotoGP and the strong relationship De Angelis still has with HRC made the deal relatively easy to put together. The replacement for De Angelis in Team Scot's Moto2 team is as yet unknown, but the names of Andrew Pitt and Lorenzo Savadori are currently doing the rounds.
Below is the press release issued by the Interwetten Team announcing the deal:
While finding a replacement for Valentino Rossi turned into a search of near epic proportions, taking nearly a month to finalize, a replacement for the unfortunate Hiroshi Aoyama was found within almost a day. The Japanese test rider Kousuke Akiyoshi was slotted into the Interwetten Honda team directly after Aoyama's crash during the Warm Up at Silverstone, and made his appearance on the RC212V at Assen. This was just to be a temporary measure, as was explained when the announcement was made, until a more permanent replacement for Aoyama can be found, who will be out for two or three months with a fractured T12 vertebra.
It appears that such a replacement may have been found. Various press sources are reporting that Alex de Angelis is to step back up to MotoGP and take Aoyama's place. The Italian would substitute for Aoyama for the next 4 to 6 races, depending on the duration of Aoyama's recovery, at which point he would return to the Scot Moto2 team.
Our trip through Scott Jones' MotoGP images comes to an end today, with a look back at the remarkable race at Indianapolis. The facilities are astonishing, the track layout is surprisingly good for what is known locally as a "Roval" (a road course inside an oval), the organization is amazing. Throughout the weekend, only two recurring complaints could be heard: the huge amount of chain link fencing used to protect the public from flying car parts when the four-wheelers race here saw photographers crowding around the few fence openings like seals at an arctic breathing hole; and there wasn't a decent cup of coffee to be had in a thousand miles or more, reducing European journalists (for this is the fuel upon which their work depends) to gibbering wrecks.
After yesterday's trip down the pit lane at Donington, today we turn our attention to the track. Scott Jones captured some of the crucial moments from July's British Grand Prix at Donington, including the protagonists from the race and the highlights from practice. The final set of photos go up on Sunday, and they are well worth the wait.
Another day, another set of beautiful photographs taken by MotoMatters.com snapper Scott Jones. That weekend saw the weather play a major role, with race day finally drying up and producing three great races, including a scintillating MotoGP contest. Relive it all again in glorious color:
On the third day of looking back at 2009, we return to the July 5th weekend, and the Red Bull US GP at Laguna Seca. The light is always beautiful on the Monterey Peninsula, and Scott Jones knows how to get the best out of. Enjoy some of his highlights from a weekend of racing in California.
Of the six (or seven, depending on how you count them) MotoGP riders to lose their places in the premier class after the 2009 season, Alex de Angelis and Toni Elias surely deserved it the least. Both men had a difficult early part of the season, left waiting for their Gresini Honda team to find the funds for the upgraded chassis for the team's Honda RC212Vs. Once they received the new parts both Elias and De Angelis made a big leap forward in performance, turning into regular front runners. By then, though it was too late, and the available seats in MotoGP had already filled up.
For a while, it looked like Alex de Angelis would stay in MotoGP, but the negotiations between the Scot Honda team and the government of the Republic of San Marino, the tiny city state foundered on the rock of money, the San Marino tourist board simply unable to stump up the necessary cash to run a full season of MotoGP.
That did not mean that the deal was over, however. Today, the Scot Racing team announced that De Angelis will be racing with the team in Moto2 next season. The tourist board of San Marino will finance the team, stepping into the role of title sponsor, a much more affordable prospect in Moto2 than in MotoGP.
One name keeps cropping up amidst all the speculation about still open seats in the various race series. Alex de Angelis has been linked with a range of options since the late summer, all of them revolving around sponsorship by the tourism agency of San Marino, the tiny Italian republic from whence De Angelis hails. It started with the Scot Honda MotoGP program, and when that was abandoned, went on to a second Aprilia World Superbike team, as well as several options in Moto2, including the Hayate Moto2 team.
It is not that easy, though, it seems. According to San Marino's state broadcasting corporation, De Angelis' options are quickly drying up. The Scot Honda MotoGP ride fell through when San Marino could not provide the necessary (and necessarily sizable) sponsorship to fund the program. The protracted negotiations with Honda also ended another intriguing possibility, that the Scot team had been offered a Ducati GP10, expanding the Bolognese factory's presence on the grid from 5 to 6 bikes according to Italian broadcaster Sportmediaset. Unfortunately for De Angelis, by the time the negotiations with Honda had failed, Ducati had withdrawn their offer.